The Future Voices of Ireland Have Their Say

FVIHuman Rights in Ireland welcomes this guest post from Mairead Healy, Dean Brennan Perth and Alina Balc. Mairead is the Executive Director of Future Voices Ireland and an Ashoka Global Fellow; Dean and Alina are secondary school students and have undertaken the Future Voices Ireland Flagship programme

Future Voices Ireland is an innovative youth empowerment NGO which works directly with disenfranchised young people in Ireland to help them find their voices. We do this through the medium of human rights, in exploring what human rights means to the young people in their daily lives, communities and in relation to the wider policy context. It is our hope that the young people we work with, will go on to be the future voices in Ireland, and in doing so, ensure more representative and diverse decision making in our legal, political and civil service spheres, which better reflects all communities including their own.

Over the course of our programme this year, we have been amazed and astounded by the insights that the young people have given us as program leaders, on their views of the world and in understanding how the young people often do not feel listened to by society at present.

At our recent end of year presentations chaired by Dr Liam Thornton at UCD Sutherland School of Law, we were delighted to be joined by an esteemed judging panel including Mr Justice Frank Clarke (Irish Supreme Court), Children’s Ombudsman Emily Logan, Professor Donncha O’Connell (NUI Galway) and human rights lawyer Gareth Noble from KOD Lyons Solicitors.  As organisers working with the young people for the past 2 years, even we were completely blown away by how articulate, empathetic and confidently the teens presented difficult human rights issues with their own solutions, in front of their peers and the judging panel. The task was incredibly difficult for the judges and whilst the two poems below did not win, we wanted to share them widely, as we believe they are incredibly moving and poignant, in confronting difficult issues as seen through the eyes of teenagers in Ireland. Continue reading “The Future Voices of Ireland Have Their Say”

The Future Voices of Ireland Have Their Say

A thought experiment for Ruairi Quinn

We are delighted to welcome another guest post from Dr Tom Hickey of the School of Law, NUI Galway. In this essay, Tom critiques the recently-published report of the Advisory Group to the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism.

The Report of the Advisory Group to the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism: A Human Rights Critique

Consider the following thought experiment.

You and your partner are parents of three young children, the eldest of whom is due to start school in the coming months. You are both committed Catholics, and you fervently believe in raising your children in this value-system. Now let us suppose that you have a choice between two scenarios. We will consider Scenario I at this juncture, leaving Scenario II for those who persevere to the end.

In Scenario I, you will live in a state in which the primary schools fall into three categories: some are dedicated to the promotion of atheism, some to the promotion of Islam, and some to the promotion of Catholicism. Let us suppose that, because of factors such as Islamic or atheistic predominance, an uneven spread of schools, over-subscription, difficulties relating to transport/school commute etc., there is statistically an 20% chance that you will manage to get places for each of your children in a Catholic school.

Continue reading “A thought experiment for Ruairi Quinn”

A thought experiment for Ruairi Quinn

Resource Allocation Revisited: Higher Education Fees and the Courts

Judges in England and Wales have long been sensitive of the boundaries of their authority under the Judicial Review jurisdiction. Lord Hope recently sought to highlight the limits of the judicial role in the Axa Insurance (2011) case, by contrasting it with the focus of Parliament (at [49]):

While the judges, who are not elected, are best placed to protect the rights of the individual, including those who are ignored or despised by the majority, the elected members of a legislature of this kind are best placed to judge what is in the country’s best interests as a whole.

Today the High Court provided a nuanced judgment in a judicial review action brought over the raise in university tuition fees to a maximum of £9000 which will be introduced in September 2012. Although the claimant teenagers (Katy Moore and Callum Hurley, pictured above left) were unsuccessful in their bid to have the Court quash the Higher Education (Higher Amount) Regulations 2010 which introduced the fees, the judges did recognise that ministers had failed to fully carry out some of their Public Sector Equality Duties (PSEDs), which require that consideration be given to whether the decision to increase tuition fees had a disproportionate (and hence, potentially indirectly discriminatory) impact on protected groups within society. Continue reading “Resource Allocation Revisited: Higher Education Fees and the Courts”

Resource Allocation Revisited: Higher Education Fees and the Courts

A New Latin-American Students Movement & The Right To Education

Recently, there have been the rumblings of an emergent pan-Latin American student movement. Crucially, this potential movement coheres around the demand for a right to education. In Colombia and Chile a new front is being fought against the creation and maintenance of private education and the implicit commodification of learning. However, this emergent trans-continental rights-demand is not simply another traditional usage of rights. Very often, when we hear ‘human rights’ we think about them in the most legalistic of senses. They are fetishized as that which the state may guarantee for the subject. As noted by all sorts of critical theorists, such an identification leads to a thorough limitation of political agency. The political subject is figured simply as the individual in need of the state’s protection. I have recently argued, in Human Rights and Constituent Power, that we must begin to think about a different human rights,  a differential human rights. This idea of rights would have, as its condition of existence, a fundamentally split nature. On one side is the closure implicit in the juridical form, but on the other is the radical political demand to reshape the world. I have suggested that we might term this second limb ‘right-ing’ – in that it is a potent and creative process rather than something which is always already given. Let me develop the idea a little more in the context of the radical demand for a right to education instantiated in Chile and Colombia.

The ‘Chilean Winter’ has seen massive student demonstrations against one of the most privatized educational systems in the world. Joined by trade unions and other left organizations, the students have mobilized and manifested themselves in public space. They have fought for the re-establishment of public institutions which would be run on a not-for-profit basis. They have argued against the private universities and secondary schools that  render education as a commodity. Continue reading “A New Latin-American Students Movement & The Right To Education”

A New Latin-American Students Movement & The Right To Education

All schooling is for sale: Beyond the myth of fee-paying private vs. free public education

We are pleased to welcome this guest post from Dr. Karl Kitching, lecturer in the School of Education at University College, Cork.

There’s no mistaking a rightist Hook when it lands. It has become par for the course to describe ‘socialist’ Dáil deputies in a derogatory way. But ‘atheist’, George? From the same man who argued in the Irish Times on Tuesday September 20th that private schools are more inclusive than others because they were the first to allow Jewish students to enrol?

Let’s clear up a few of the problems with Tuesday’s pillow talk with private schools of the world, before exposing a more important contemporary myth: that there is actually a ‘private versus public’ debate to be had with regard to education in Ireland.

The biggest problem with George Hook’s defense of private schooling is that it was a solo run, so to speak. It is based on his own individual experience, and takes no account of how schooling quality and equality have dramatically changed in Ireland and internationally in the intervening period. Few would dismiss George’s own positive experience of school. But his ‘defence’ is hugely outdated, individualised and romanticised. As far as I am aware, George attended school before the advent of mass second level education. There were few alternatives to private (religious-run) schools during his time.

Continue reading “All schooling is for sale: Beyond the myth of fee-paying private vs. free public education”

All schooling is for sale: Beyond the myth of fee-paying private vs. free public education

UN Launch of Dr. Eilionóir Flynn’s Book From Rhetoric to Action

Human Rights in Ireland regular contributor Dr. Eilionóir Flynn’s book entitled “From Rhetoric to Action: Implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” was launched yesterday at the United Nations.    The book (published by Cambridge University Press) is a global comparative study of implementation and monitoring mechanisms for national disability strategies.  It comprises a comparative study that was conducted at international, regional, and comparative country levels and highlights critical success factors in implementing disability strategies or action plans worldwide.  The book is amongst a growing body of literature on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006).  It explores emerging synergies between what is required to implement principles of international law contained in the Convention and what is possible to achieve through national policy and systems development.  The Centre for Disability Law and Policy, NUI Galway ran a one-day international conference on the theme of the book last December.  A video of the proceedings of that conference is available here.

Eilionóir book identifies a number of critical success factors for implementing and monitoring strategies – these include leadership from government and civil society, participation of disabled people in implementation and monitoring, transparency and accountability in reporting on progress, independent monitoring and external review, and the ability to measure progress with indicators of disability equality.  This book is very timely as many countries have ratified the Convention or in the process of doing so and this book contributes to the core comparative knowledge to drive that process.  It is essential reading for anyone interested in disability law and policy.  It will be particularly useful to activists, policy makers, researchers, academics, NGOs and practitioners.

The Table of Contents is as follows:

  1. Comparative international trends in disability law and policy;
  2. Regional perspectives on disability strategies and action plans;
  3. Comparative country evaluation: a snapshot of approaches to national disability strategies;
  4. Success factors in delivering a national disability strategy – lessons from international and comparative experience;
  5. Identifying the golden threads in Irish disability law and policy;
  6. Achieving Ireland’s national disability strategy – a case study in implementation and monitoring at domestic level;
  7. Showcasing domestic progress and achieving international standards;
  8. Structural ingredients for furthering national disability strategies;
  9. Measuring progress in achieving aims of national disability strategies – key success factors.
UN Launch of Dr. Eilionóir Flynn’s Book From Rhetoric to Action

My Daughter is Leaving Home: Reflections on Living Independently

We are delighted to welcome this guest post from Noelin Fox.  Noelin is a Ph.D candidate in the Centre for Disability Law and Policy, NUI Galway.  Her research examines the right to independent living provided for in Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of with Disabilities.  Noelin has worked for many years in intellectual disability services’ in Ireland.

This month, my daughter, like thousands of her peers across the country, is moving away from home for the first time.  She is 18 years old and is taking up her place in college, embarking on her journey to independence.  Over the coming months she will have to learn a whole array of new skills which she has no previous experience of.  She will have to manage her (limited) budget, feed herself properly, learn to live with people who are not her immediate family, manage the academic work she is assigned, deal with the bank, figure out bus time-tables, forge new friendships and a whole array of other tasks.  In the process she may well make mistakes.  She may submit work late for college, spend too much money on going out leaving herself short at the end of the week, get involved in unwise relationships, among many things.  Hopefully she will learn from such mistakes and manage better the next time.  Throughout this process she will have plenty of support – from us her parents, from the school-friends she is living with and from new friends – and if she gets her heart broken or bruised we will take care of her until she heals and help to her move on.  The college too is well attuned to the needs of in-coming first years – it has good structures in place to ease them into college life and help ensure they progress through their first encounters with third level academic studies.

How different all this would all be if she had a disability, especially if she had an intellectual disability.  Would she be leaving home at all at this stage of her life at all?  Probably not – Continue reading “My Daughter is Leaving Home: Reflections on Living Independently”

My Daughter is Leaving Home: Reflections on Living Independently

Towards Affirmative Action in Irish Education

Amid accusations of educational apartheid in the admissions policies of Irish schools, a landmark Circuit Court ruling in Clonmel allowed an appeal by a secondary school against an Equality Authority ruling that it had indirectly discriminated against a Traveller boy in refusing to admit him. The admissions policy of the Christian Brothers High School in Clonmel is a familiar one in the Irish educational landscape: that the applicant be Catholic; that he would have attended a recognised feeder primary school; and that he would have had a father or brother who attended the school prior to him. Continue reading “Towards Affirmative Action in Irish Education”

Towards Affirmative Action in Irish Education

Scholarship for the LL.M in International & Comparative Disability Law Announced

The Centre for Disability Law & Policy at NUI Galway will fund a scholarship for the LL.M. in International and Comparative Disability Law and Policy in NUI Galway.  The scholarship will be awarded on basis of a competition open to all applicants (the recipient of the scholarship will be awarded the tuition for the programme).  To be eligible to enter for the CDLP scholarship, candidates must first apply for the LL.M in International and Comparative Disability Law and Policy.  Only candidates who are offered a place on this programme will be considered for the scholarship.  Candidates who have been offered a place subject to degree results are also eligible to apply.  Applications for the LL.M. are made online at: www.pac.ie.  The deadline for receipt of applications is 5 pm, on Sunday July 31st, 2011. Applications should be sent to llmdisability@nuigalway.ie.  Full information is available here.

 

Scholarship for the LL.M in International & Comparative Disability Law Announced

Religion in Irish Schools

Our regular blogger Eoin Daly has published an op-ed in today’s Irish Times in which he responds to calls for increased religious “diversity” in Irish schools (such as that made by the IHRC on Tuesday). The full piece is here. Eoin writes:

Generally, suggestions of reform have been limited to readjustments within the logic and form of the patronage model, better tapering the ethos-mix, while stopping short of prescribing a universal model of non-denominational education, which might put religious freedom beyond the crude vagaries of the school recognition process.

The Irish Human Rights Commission launched a report this week with recommendations including: “The State should ensure that there is a diversity of provision of school type within educational catchment areas throughout the State which reflects the diversity of convictions now represented in the State.”

I acknowledge the limited statutory remit of the commission. However, its report falls short of suggesting the creation of a universal, common public school. It essentially suggests reforms within the logic and form of the patronage model.

On the other hand, Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn’s desire to see the church divest control of up to a half of primary schools to the State is radical and welcome.

Religion in Irish Schools